NATURE AND WEATHER.
The dazzlingly white sand (which didn’t burn bare feet) contrasted wonderfully with the turqouise and teal sea and blue sky. The sea was warm and clean. Palms swayed in the breeze; the temperature felt as if it was between 28 and 32 Celsius and was in fact easier to take than Turkey’s summer heat, for example. We were warned about the possibility of hurricanes, but there was only one serious rainstorm during our whole stay, which took out about two hours of beach time. Early mornings were sometimes cloudy, but my husband enjoyed swimming in the sea at just this time, when it’s very quiet and pleasant.
AIRPORT AND TRANSFERS.
The arrival process at the airport was clear and understandable, and more importantly quick. The transfer from the airport to the hotel (or vice versa) was $30 for the whole family in an airconditioned minivan (which seems to be a set rate).
HOTEL AND GROUNDS. Despite the unpromising road from the airport to the hotel, the hotel complex itself pleased us very much. The hotel is brand new, very beautifully decorated with exquisite taste but without excess (well, Spanish colonnades and fountains don’t count). The decor used marble, light-colored stone, aristocratic dark woods and rich fabrics. Comfortable sofas and armchairs were everywhere. Everything was decorated with flowers, plants, paintings and sculptures; in the evenings, candles and lamps flickered enticingly. The grounds are large and meticulously tended, with palms and other thick vegetation. The buildings do not exceed 3 floors, and there were relatively few guests, so that one did not feel as if in an anthill or beehive. There are 3 pools (a big general one and two with limited access) and 5 – 6 restaurants.
"FAMILY CONCIERGE" ACCOMMODATIONS. We reserved "family concierge"
accommodations, which are somewhat more expensive than the hotel’s general rates. (The hotel has a counterpart for childless guests, called "royal service", and the two special pools are intended for guests in these categories.) Likely because August is not high season, we were upgraded from the junior suite we reserved to a one bedroom suite with a jacuzzi, fancy shower and even a separate vanity and sink area for the kids. The suite had a kitchenette with a large refridgerator filled with alcoholic drinks, juices, soft drinks and even several kinds of milk for the children. There was broadband Internet access, although the entire hotel’s internet access broke down from time to time. The kids slept in the living room on the convertible sofa.
THE POOL AND CONCIERGES. We had access to a separate Family Pool with its own bar and concierge – a guy who gave out clean towels and floater toys for the kids, delivered drinks and generally took care of all reasonable desires. Flanking the pool were many "Bali beds" – huge queen-sized sofa beds under palm-leaf shades called "palapas". We all fit comfortably into a single Bali bed, since the kids spent all their time in the pool anyway.
When we wanted to go into the water, we could lounge on tile loungers build right into the pool and covered by the same "palapas". Further, we were assigned two sweet young ladies/concierges, always with notepads and walkie-talkies, who found us on the grounds several times a day and inquired whether everything was allright. They even took care of small details (for example, in a suite with two flat-screen TVs we had only one remote control, and only liquid soap – another remote and regular soap were brought forthwith; the fridge was filled by our favorite drinks; check-in and check-out were thoughtfully carried out in a separate area with toys, kids’ furniture and snacks).
FOR THE KIDS. We were very touched that the hotel treated the kids as honored guests. They got T-shirts, caps and other stuff; in the suite they had small bathrobes and slippers of the right sizes, as well as children’s toothbrushes, pastes, shampoo etc. The pool bar offered a fun assortment of non-alcoholic cocktails. In the evening the kids were brought cookies and milk. Our eldest boy wanted a Play Station which was supposedly available on request, but we did not get one due to high demand for the few units on hand (as parents we were not terribly disappointed by this). There is an electronic game room, a mini club and various activities. On the other hand, we were too lazy to try them (as we were too lazy to do any motorized aqua sports). There were no "animators" in our zone whatsoever, for which we frankly were very grateful. Every evening there were entertainment shows in the theatre for both kids and adults, but due to the time change we were all asleep by then.
FOOD AND RESTAURANTS. One or two "buffet-style" restaurants were always open; nonetheless, their offerings, while respectable, did not match the riches of Greece or Turkey in terms of vegetables, dairy products or sweets.
Instead, we took real joy in the restaurant reserved for "family concierge" guests called Gabi Beach, where, while looking at the sea and the palms and sipping Chilean or Argentinian wine, we got our fill of dishes made with lobster, shrimp, mussels, scallops, octopus etc. This palapa-shaded open-air restaurant was conveniently near the Family Pool, so the kids, instead of torturously waiting at our table while we ordered, splashed in the pool up until the last minute, and having pecked at their food, immediately took off for the pool once again. Gabi Beach and the other a la carte restaurants requiring advanced reservations aspired to the status of haute cuisine, and to our surprise most times we were not disappointed – the dishes were truly exquisitely prepared and presented. This notwithstanding, our youngest, who refused to grant recognition to any culinary novelties, was ceremoniously presented with hot dogs from the neighboring grill restaurant.
SERVICE AND LANGUAGES. All of the staff was very attentive and friendly. However, we did not meet up with Russian speakers, so be prepared to communicate in English or, better yet, in Spanish. I think there was one Russian channel on the cable TV. Mostly, the hotel had guests from North and South America, as well as Spaniards. We did not recall seeing Germans or Russian speakers.
In summary, we liked everything very much. The Paradisus Palma Real in Punta Cana is an excellent choice for a stylish family vacation, especially if you want to combine a beach holiday with a trip to North or South America.
All the best